The protest was called upon by Helem- a lebanese NGO defending the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders -in reaction to the brutal beating of two men in Sassine square in Beirut under the pretext that they were seen having sex! This happened in front of the bypassers and every single person who was on the scence. Hence Helem could not stand silent before this medieval act, and along with other associations (TYMAT, KAFA, Mouvement Social, etc.) called to an antiviolence sit in.
This event was unique since it was dominated by Helem members and supporters, hence people of different sexual orientations were present, and said in public that the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders should be secured in the Lebanese society. In a way they showed their pride of their sexual orientation regardless of the intolerence of the Lebanese society that rejects them. In short they were saying: we are gay and proud! It is not easy to publically announce that in an intolerent and traditional society! Hence this event is unique in the Arab world were sexual orientations other then heterosexuality is seen as a crime and as an illness that should be dealt with.
Nevertheless, the dominance of pro-gay rights slogans should not prevent us from seeing the larger picture of the sit-in. The Lebanese society deals violently with minorities, but in the same way it claims advancing liberal values, openness and resemblence to the occidental culture. This contradiction within the society was revealed during the demonstration where only 50 people were present and officials or public figures were totally absent. In fact, the Lebanese society inflicts much suffering to weak social groups which we can call minorities: we have a systemic injustice regarding foreing female domestic workers (from Sri Lanka, Philippine and others) through a staggering exploitation that should be called neo-slavery, systemic racism and empoverishment towards Palestinians who live in concentration camps, violence against women (domestic violence and sexual exploitation), violence against children, racism and exploitation towards foreign workers, and, of course, violence against gays and lesbians who are persecuted and seen in the eyes of laws as criminals because they have sex which is "against nature"!
Beyond the facade of liberal values, the Lebanese society still deals with those who are seen as "deviant" in a violent, brutal and medieval manner, thus revealing its incapability of tolerence. While the Lebanese always brag about their community values according to which no one is left alone, it rejects each invidual who seem different in sexual orientation, colour or nationality!
This sit-in should evolve and crystallize into a social movement regrouping those "minorities" in order to force the authorities and society to respect them as they are, and to ensure that their rights are secured by the law like any other citizen!